MIAMI BEACH (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Lawyers representing Jack Utsick have sent a memorandum to Miami Herald writer Christina Hoag in reference to her August 20, 2006 article, “Big Dream, Big Fall,” accusing the article of being “replete with inaccuracies, libelous statements and unfair characterizations.”
The letter lists 25 specific incorrect or misleading sections that painted Utsick and his business in a negative light for the purpose of the article.
Utsick told CelebrityAccess that his lawyers have demanded a correction, if not a full retraction, and that the article has done tremendous damage to his character.
“We at least want to get my side of the story out there so that people will know that there is another side to all this,” Utsick said.
The letter focuses greatly on the wording and factuality of much of Hoag’s article, accusing the writer of exaggerating many of the SEC’s allegations against Utsick, including stating that he was charged with “fleecing” investors “of” $300 million. The letter explains that approximately $300 million was the total raised during the entire period, most of which was repaid and used to buy assets building the company. “Fleecing,” the laywers point out, suggests that the venture was a total fraud and investors lost everything.
“This is not so and is far from so,” the letter reads. In fact, Utsick settled the suit with the SEC in April of this year by consent.
Hoag also described the situation as a “Ponzi-type scheme,” which Utsick’s lawyers note was not used in the SEC complaint, creating what the lawyers described as “a false impression that the entire operation was a Ponzi scheme and is libelous.”
The letter pinpoints other words and phrases, including the use of “many” holdings mired in legal quagmires rather than a “handful.” The article also states that the SEC action is the “end” of Utsick’s career, while the lawyers claim that is entirely false as Utsick is still engaged in, and is making efforts to remain engaged in, the entertainment business.
The letter also criticizes Hoag’s statement that Utsick had an “easy path to the big time,” by stating that, “Mr. Utsick busted his hump for 15 years (actually Utsick has been in business for 30 years), often working 20 hour days to be in contact with people in time zones all over the world.”
As the Miami Herald article concentrates greatly on the financial troubles of the company and Utsick’s reported wild spending, the letter also focus on inaccuracies the lawyers found in this area.
The letter points out that Hoag undercut the acknowledgement that Utsick received no salary by observing that he charged his living expenses to the company, and states that Mr. Utsick kept his expenses below $300,000, “and usually considerably less than this.” By comparison to other major company executives, the lawyers view these expenses as modest.
The business practices by which he attracted investors were also reported falsely, with the lawyers claiming the description “casts him in the light of a carnival snake oil salesman.” Where the article alleged that he traveled the country giving pitches, luring investors with promises of 30% returns, the letter says that he participated in no more than four informational meetings at most with investors, and projected returns in most cases of substantially less.
The letter from Utsick’s lawyers also claims that the “description of the January 2006 Yeager suit betrays an utter misunderstanding of what transpired,” explaining that Worldwide Entertainment owed money to Yeager’s company, which was in turned owed to investors whose funds were loaned to Worldwide to finance projects. Because of the disorganization of Worldwide and its financial situation, all parties agreed that Worldwide would consent to the appointment of a receiver to organize funds when Yeager’s companies filed suit. It should be pointed out that no investors were suing Worldwide when the SEC action was taken.
“Your article falsely makes it appear that Mr. Utsick stiffed Yeager,” the letter reads, “and this is absolutely untrue.”
While Utsick and Worldwide are no doubt in a significant financial and public relations crisis as a result of the disorganization of many of the company’s assets, Utsick did take his company from #28 to the #2 promoter worldwide, with a staff of only 69, compared to some of the other leading mega-promoter companies, warranting a thorough look at the man behind the madness.
While the letter asked for a retraction and a second article in the Herald, one is yet to be seen. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers